More than 2 million Chinese university students have earned course credits for entrepreneurship in the five years since the Ministry of Education selected 200 universities to take part in a pilot program.
Strong encouragement for entrepreneurship among students has led more than 3,700 of them to temporarily suspend their studies to start their own businesses since the program was launched, the ministry said.
Wu Yan, director of the ministry's department of higher education, said the universities have launched 3,400 open online courses on innovation and entrepreneurship and more than 6,500 courses combining professional knowledge and entrepreneurship, which have attracted 34 million enrollments.
They have also employed more than 17,000 full-time teachers and 42,000 part-time ones to assist students' innovation and entrepreneurship efforts, he said at a news conference on Wednesday.
The national finals of the sixth China International College Students' "Internet Plus" Innovation and Entrepreneurship Competition will open on Tuesday at South China University of Technology in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, Wu said.
A total of 6.31 million students from 117 countries and regions have signed up for this year's competition, he said.
The competition has been held every year since 2015, Wu said, with 15.77 million students taking part in it.
"More than 70,000 enterprises have been established from the entrepreneurship projects in the last five competitions, creating more than 600,000 new jobs. The most successful student startup has made more than 200 million yuan ($30.19 million)," he said.
Zhang Xichun, Party secretary of South China University of Technology, said that with the help of technology heavyweights like Huawei and Tencent, the university has established a digital platform for international students unable to travel to Guangzhou for the competition due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A video stream featuring Chinese and English subtitles provided by AI-powered speech recognition and translation software will allow people around the world to view the competition, Zhang said.